Daily Archives: July 10, 2011

Alice Munro: “A Twentieth Century Jane Austen”


Alice interviewed at the Vancouver International Authors’ Festival in October 2009 on the occasion of the publication of her latest collection of stories, Too Much Happiness.

Today is Alice Munro‘s 80th birthday.

Frye in “Culture and Society in Ontario, 1784-1984”:

….[T]he [Bildungsroman] theme seems to have an unusual intensity for Ontario writers: the best and most skillful of them, including Robertson Davies and Alice Munro, continue to employ a great deal of what is essentially the Stephen Leacock Mariposa theme, however different in tone.  Most such books take us from the first to the second birth of the central character.  Childhood and adolescence are passed in a small town or village, then a final initiation, often a sexual one, marks the entry into a more complex social contract.  (CW 12, 621)

In any case, as we saw, prose in Ontario began with the documentary realism of journals and memoirs, and when fiction developed, that was the tradition it recaptured.  Documents, when not government reports, tended to have short units, and the fact may account for the curious ascendancy in Canadian fiction of the novel which consists of a sequence of interrelated short stories.  This form is the favorite of Alice Munro, and reaches a dazzling technical virtuosity in Lives of Girls and Women.  (ibid., 624)

From “‘Condominium Mentality’ in CanLit,” an interview with the University of Toronto Bulletin, February 1990:

O’Brien: Which Canadian writers are you most enthusiastic about?

Frye: The obvious people: Peggy Atwood, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Timothy Findlay, Mordecai Richler, . . . especially Alice Munro, who seems to be a twentieth-century Jane Austen.  (CW 24, 1037)

Munro’s “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” (1999) in the New Yorker here.


Rupert Murdoch

BBC interview with Murdoch in 1968 as he took possession of the newly defunct News of the World. As you can see, he was fully formed even then. The potential for trouble was apparent from the beginning.

Andrew Rawnsley of the Guardian — the paper that almost singlehandedly brought the phone hacking scandals in Britain to light — rips into Rupert Murdoch today. Because Murdoch is a naturalized American citizen and News Corp. is a registered U.S. company, he (or at least the people around him) may be facing charges there too. It’d be too much to hope this causes Fox News to miss a step, but it is a sign that even a behemoth can be brought down by the vigilance of what used to be known as journalism. There is much much less of it in the U.S. than the U.K., but maybe there’s just enough.

Britain has paid a high price for the concentration of so much media power in the hands of one family. Elected politicians have been cowed, public debate has been skewed and policy formulation has been distorted. On Friday, David Cameron offered a confessional on behalf of the whole political class. He admitted that both his government and previous ones had turned “a blind eye” to abuses of press power because they were so scared of that power. Too right. It has been known for years that a minority of journalists have suborned public officials, especially police officers, into selling confidential information. Yet successive home secretaries have either been unable or unwilling to get the police to do anything. It has long been an outrage that it is possible to own such a large chunk of the British media without being either a UK citizen or paying full UK taxes. Yet successive chancellors of the exchequer have been unable or unwilling to do anything about that either.

Michio Kaku: The Truth About Alternative Energy

Solar, wind and geothermal are becoming more viable, and fusion is only twenty years away. Video from Big Think here.

Expect the corporatists to ramp up global warming denialism as all of this becomes more apparent. After all, what’s in it for Exxon-Mobil, the richest company in the world?

Or, closer to home, what’s in it for Alberta, which has 10% of the country’s population but now seems to represent 100% of the government’s priority?